Rushing attack helps Bulldogs defeat Cyclones
OTTAWA -- After falling behind 14-0, Baldwin High School football coach Mike Berg helped rally his Bulldog team to a victory here Friday night.
"We were down 14-0 and I called the team together," Berg said. "I said, 'Guys the game is not over. Quit making mistakes, do what we do and good things will happen.'"
The Bulldogs (2-2) then went on to outscore Ottawa (0-4) 34-7 and win the game 34-21.
"It felt really good to get the win," junior Chase Abel said. "We thought it was going to be an easy win, but we found out really soon that it wasn't going to be. We came out flat, but we picked things up in the second half. We came out and played Baldwin football."
The game started off well for Baldwin as junior Michael Giarruputo intercepted a Cyclone pass. The Bulldogs drove down the field, but failed to convert a fourth-down conversion on the Ottawa 19-yard line.
Three plays later, sophomore Sam Beecher intercepted a pass and returned the ball to the Ottawa 3-yard line. On the next play, Beecher fumbled the ball into the end zone and Ottawa recovered.
"That was a scary first quarter," Berg said. "It goes back to mistakes again. We've got to fix our own mistakes," Berg said. "We are going to do that. We are getting better every game."
Ottawa scored a touchdown five plays later with a 59-yard run to take a 7-0 lead. On the kickoff, the Bulldogs tried a reverse, but the exchange between sophomore Andy Thurlow and Beecher was fumbled. Ottawa recovered and scored again, taking a 14-0 lead.
"I think the fumbles really turned the momentum," Berg said. "Football is such a game of momentum. When they (Ottawa) had momentum, it was hard for us to establish that back."
Beecher said the Bulldogs had problems early, especially himself.
"First off, I had a couple fumbles and that didn't help," Beecher said. "We also didn't tackle very well."
Baldwin did answer with a touchdown of its own. Ottawa pulled a quick-kick punt on third down deep in its own territory. The Bulldogs took over at the Cyclone 14-yard line.
Abel scored on a 10-yard touchdown run to put Baldwin on the scoreboard. However, Ottawa scored on its first play of the next drive with a 58-yard run.
Right before halftime, Baldwin drove the ball 88 yards in nine plays. Abel again scored on an 11-yard run to close the score to 21-14 before half.
"We got a butt chewing at halftime and we came out a lot better in the second half," Beecher said.
After halftime, Baldwin controlled the game. On its first possession of the half, BHS marched 49 yards in six plays. Beecher finished the drive with a 6-yard touchdown run to tie the game.
The Bulldogs took the lead on their next possession when Beecher rushed for a 5-yard touchdown run.
"We got the momentum back and we kept it," Berg said. "That's what we need to do. We are a physical team and we need to have the ball in our hands. We want to run the clock out."
Baldwin scored its final touchdown during the middle of the fourth quarter. Beecher broke loose for a 31-yard run to give Baldwin a 34-21 lead.
He credits the Bulldogs success in the second half to playing more fired up.
"I think we came out more intense," Beecher said. "The line fired off better and the running backs hit the hole harder."
Baldwin held Ottawa scoreless the rest of the quarter to take the win. Berg was proud of how his team battled all game long Friday.
"We didn't start the game off very well, but we played a really good second half," Berg said. "The team showed a lot of character by fighting the entire game."
The Bulldogs next play host to Louisburg (4-0) at 7 p.m. Friday at Baker University's Liston Stadium.
"We are looking forward to the challenge," Berg said. "They are the best team in the league right now and they are ranked in the state. They are physical, but they are not making mistakes, either."
Abel said he is a bit nervous about the game Friday.
"I am little nervous, to be honest," Abel said. "I think we will be all right and, hopefully, we come out and play four quarters of a good football game."
Beecher is excited to play on the new artificial turf again, but hopes he plays better than he did against Prairie View on Sept. 15.
"I am really looking forward to it, because it will be a good challenge," Beecher said. "They are undefeated. Hopefully, I will play better on the turf this time."